WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- President Obama said Thursday the United States is easing investment restrictions on Myanmar, citing the country's progress in "the path to democracy."
Obama also announced he is nominating the first U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in 22 years, the current special envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell.
"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Burma," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
Obama said Myanmar President Thein Sein, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sworn in May 2 as a member of Parliament, and the people of Myanmar "have made significant progress along the path to democracy."
Obama said the United States would ease bans on new investment and exportation of financial services in the Southeast Asian country.
"Opening up greater economic engagement between our two countries is critical to supporting reformers in government and civil society, facilitating broad-based economic development and bringing Burma out of isolation and into the international community," he said.
But, Obama said, "The United States remains concerned about Burma's closed political system, its treatment of minorities and detention of political prisoners, and its relationship with North Korea."
He said the United States would work to ensure those who "abuse human rights, engage in corruption, interfere with the peace process or obstruct the reform process do no benefit from increased engagement with the United States."
Obama said the United States also would continue to seek that those who commit serious human rights violations are "held accountable."